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Donald Berwick presses party rivals for debate on casinos

Donald M. Berwick, one of three Democratic gubernatorial candidates, today challenged his party rivals to a debate focused on casinos, following a Tuesday ruling from the state’s high court that cleared the way for a November ballot question repealing casino gambling in the state.

Berwick supports repeal, while Treasurer Steven Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley oppose it.

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“We haven’t had a chance to debate, at length, our relative positions on that,” Berwick said in a telephone interview, noting that the Democratic candidates had engaged in lots of “30-second soundbite” debates that did not allow for a deep dive on one issue.

Berwick, a former federal Medicare and Medicaid chief, said he hopes for an hour or hour-and-half-long debate on July 7 for “a more authentic dialogue.”

A spokesman for Grossman, Jon Ostrowsky, said the treasurer had called Berwick and agreed to a debate on that date.

“Steve spoke with Don on the phone this afternoon and agreed to discuss casinos, along with other topics, as long as that works for the attorney general’s schedule as well” on July 7, Ostrowsky said.

He said the campaigns would huddle in coming days to has out details.

Bonnie McGilpin, a Coakley spokeswoman, did not respond to an email asking whether Coakley would attend the debate.

The push for a debate marks a slightly more aggressive posture for Berwick, who has staked out the most liberal turf of the Democratic contenders but has shied away from actively drawing sharp contrasts with his rivals.

Also running to succeed Governor Deval Patrick are two Republicans and three independent candidates.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.
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